A great READING resource with QUESTIONS and ANSWER KEY included! It focuses on the topic of Homestead Act (1862).
Included are 1 page reading, 1 page question sheet and 1 page answer key! Perfect for homework assignments, classwork or reading for test review! Can be used for both middle and high school level.
The reading first breaks down the term Homestead Act by defining homestead. It puts into context of how the Homestead Act promoted westward expansion by offering free land. There is a section explaining the qualifications for applying a homestead in the Great Plains. For instance, applicants had to be 21 years of age and be head of the household. They must also pledge to live and settle in the Great Plains for five years. The reading mentions how the Homestead Act was an inclusive legislation that allowed all American citizens to apply. This includes women, former slaves, immigrants and poor farmers. The only exception was southern slaveowners and Confederates who openly challenged the American government. Students will understand the government wanted primarily individual small-scale farming to permeate in the west versus large slave plantations. This was done in the effort to contain the spread of slavery in western territories. The next section of the reading focuses on southern opposition to the Homestead Act. This involves explaining how southern slaveowners felt threatened by competition with small-scale farming. Not only did it jeopardized their agricultural economy, it weakened their political power. If western territories becomes free states, then representative power for southern slaveowners would decline. Due to southern rejection of the Homestead Act, the legislation was only passed after the south seceded the Union during the Civil War.
Other reading sections focuses on the challenges living in the Great Plains. The arid climate and unpredictable thunderstorms created a difficult farming environment for homesteaders. Since some had trouble attaining fertile farmland and producing enough crops, homesteaders had to declare bankruptcy and leave the Great Plains. Students will also understand how most homesteaders had limited and no experience in farming. Most moved to the Great Plains for the free 160 acres of land. In the last section of the reading, it identifies the key effects of the Homestead Act. This consists of providing better social and economic conditions for marginalized groups of society. A particular example was former slaves who suffered from harsh Jim Crow laws in the South after the Civil War and violent attacks by the Ku Klux Klan. They were known as the exodusters who believed the west was their promised land for better economic opportunities. Lastly, it mentions how the Homestead Act transformed the social and political landscape for the United States in the western frontier.
Some vocabulary words and key terms that are included in this reading are Homestead Act, westward expansion, Confederates, Civil War, slavery, Senate, Union, secede, President Lincoln, President James Buchanan, Great Plains, Great American Desert, Jim Crow laws, Ku Klux Klan, exodusters, Kansas and western frontier.
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